The days of building on any open lot, with the expectation that buyers will eventually come, may be over. New research from the Center for Neighborhood Technology–a Chicago think tank–shows that people who live close to transit, jobs, schools and retail, typically in cities and inner ring suburbs, spend up to $2,100 less annually on gasoline than residents of outer ring suburbs, where homes and amenities are dispersed and require residents to drive more.

The research, which compares average household gasoline expenses based on the average number of vehicle miles traveled per household, examines 52 U.S. metropolitan areas across the country – encompassing 60 million households. It also looks at percentage of household income spent on transportation, number of vehicles per household, transit ridership and other variables on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.

The gas-cost findings are the newest addition to the Housing + Transportation Affordability Index developed by CNT and its collaborative partner, the Center for Transit Oriented Development (CTOD). The latest release of the H + T Index, a project of the Brookings Institution’s Urban Markets Initiative, is web-based technology that can take the guesswork out of computing transportation and other costs.

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